Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Math for the Reluctant Artist

My daughter, currently eleven years old, believes she is "bad at math" because computation steps don't stick in her head. We've gone over long division and adding fractions repeatedly, and it just doesn't stick. It doesn't make sense to her, and she's the kind of learner who wants to understand the Why of something before she'll understand the How or What.

In most areas of our homeschooling journey, we unschool. This means I keep a gentle pulse on what my children are learning through experience and play. But like many unschooling mamas, I wonder about math. How much is "enough"? When we sit down to "do a little math," it often ends (at least with my daughter) in tears, anger, and frustration. It doesn't matter that I explain that she actually is skilled at math - her numeracy skills are fabulous and her ability to see patterns and relationships is quite advanced. It doesn't matter that I point out the math she uses in Minecraft. It doesn't matter if we use Kahn Academy or Brain POP or Brainquest workbook pages or just go over stuff on a piece of paper. Her perfectionism and anxiety take over. I start wondering how much math she actually needs to learn if she will never go to normal school and will likely pursue a career in art. She needs to know money skills, shopping, and cooking. She needs to be able to either file her taxes and figure out a mortgage or make enough to pay someone else to do so. But does she really need to know long division and multiplying fractions? Does she need to know how to FOIL a complex equation? I don't know.

Her dad and I enjoyed math. We were good at it. And since her brain works a lot like ours do, I suspect she could also enjoy math - again, she likes patterns and relationships and number games. So I did a search for Math for Artists for some ideas for how to teach math to a creative soul. Here are some links I discovered plus a few we've used over the years.

Riches on Pinterest
The fabulous Vi Hart (videos to watch together or let her watch on her own)
She plays a lot of the Cool Math Games - these don't teach computation, but do exercise math skills int he brain
This series looks interesting
Visual-Spatial Resources, with and article specifically about algebra
Some ideas for teaching math with art
Natural Math - a huge site full of resources for visual and kinesthetic learners as well as more traditional math-types